tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN September 3, 2012 10:00am-12:00pm EDT
in general elections for president, anywhere from 38 to 45% of union households voted for candidates of union officials -- that union official to not support. it is high temperatures group and we ought to respect those numbers and households and not use money for political projects they opposed. 38 to 45% of households cast ballots opposed to what union officials have told them how to vote. caller: there are some money things i want to say. it isn't it funny that obama goes out in a speech and he cries about how romney as wind have all of this money, all this dirty karl rove money against him. was it like $800 million they put in the campaign in 2008? i am in the right to work state
and i'm glad. if the teachers unions are ready to strike in chicago, they are in a mess. why does the press hold obama responsible for anything in chicago? he gets arne duncan to be the superintendent of schools. he got the subprime mortgages going with citibank. not one person talks about it. we hardly did not get any stimulus money. it is like in north carolina. you had to be a union worker to work in the convention center. isn't that discrimination? guest: back in the 2008 cycle, there were two unions who talked about how they spend $400 million on obama's campaign alone. someone in "the new york times"
wrote about that. there's a lot of money in the political process. not that we separate out this money, but when one pot of money has compulsory power when they pay as a condition of their employment, that is an injustice. the idea of money in the political process is a much bigger issue, peter. if it were not for the compulsion and workers forced to pay fees and the condition of pain their jobs, we would not have an argument. union members who disagree with the way they were spending their money could get out. they can because of litigation we have one at the supreme court level, but really, to show them a choice. they have to give up their workplace rights, resign union membership. they cannot vote on contracts that govern there are employment. in order to protect their
workplace right, they have to give up that right. >> the title -- host: the title of your op-ed this morning. where did this come from? guest: it comes from his book. that is out of his book. those are not our words, but his. host: how are you finding? guest: the average contribution is $74 per year and we have anywhere between 150,000 to $180,000 on a yearly basis. they have expressed support or signed petitions to their elected officials but that the state and federal level. and is a voluntary organization. if we do not earn their support, we do not get it. host: the u.k. corporate
contributions? -- do you take corporate contributions? guest: all of these big companies out there have a pretty sweet deal. they get together every three years and negotiating contracts to cover every employee. they do not have to worry about the best or the worst but they just pass this pattern agreements in these big industries and apply it to everybody. there's no burden for them to adjudicate someone is a really good worker or a bad worker ran just apply to everyone. big corporations do not appreciate right to work can they do not support us. host: the next call from virginia on the independent line. hello. caller: good morning, mr. mix. i'm calling to inquire about your efforts in states that currently do not have national right to work laws, such as west virginia.
there is a contentious gubernatorial election there. the republican candidate is working towards reforming west virginia's status in the current unemployment rate. what does your committee do to influence the elections in the same vein that the union political affiliate's? guest: great question. we do not support or endorse any candidate. we want to inform people of a particular state where candidates stand on an issue like right to work. we focus on guiding the expression to supporters who we know support us. we're very active across the country. we passed a right to work labelle was beaten by the governor in massachusetts. we passed one in indiana this year in february.
there are aggressive programs in missouri, kentucky, mantegna. -- montana. there are a lot of states where it is popping up. the issue is gaining attention. it is gaining favor, i think, across many states in the country. host: here is a map of the states that have right to work states. the ones in blue. democratic caller. >> thank you for taking my call -- caller: thank you for taking my call. i'm calling about the average union dues, $800. i retired. i came down to florida. i see what teachers are making. they're making only $30,000 or $40,000 a year in the state of
florida. the standard of living and the cost of living is too high. it the purpose of the union is to protect the workers. that is the bottom line. host: mr. mix. guest: could not agree with you more that is to protect the workers. it is their job to protect the workers not want their representation. the believe everyone should be forced to join a union as a condition of getting a job in america? that's ridiculous. one particular industry may not have dues. i mentioned it was the average. a lot of them are negotiating contracts that require them to be a percentage of the hourly wage or salary. every time something increases, they get an automatic increase in union dues. the people who call was looking
for help, we always ask what their union dues are. in compiling that data, we have come up with a reliable number of about $800 on an annualized basis. host: tweeting in -- any response? guest: they want to rely on the government for their power. they decided right then and there that they would have more interest in who is serving in political office than who is on the shop floor. as government unionism has grown in their power now is a new frontier for them, there are more government union members than private sector and their important mission now is to make sure they know who the governor, state legislators, and school board members are because that is to their market is. they lobby them for their power and a half to rely on them
because it is written into state and federal law. host: on a republican line, good morning. please, go ahead. caller: mr. mix, i want to agree with you wholeheartedly about what you said earlier. when they do the contract, a covers every worker. my husband worked his keister off. some people do not really work that hard. there are other great americans who would want a job. some people should get $20 an hour and some $11. it's easier for the big three to say everyone makes the same thing. my husband has a work ethic. jason ford up in michigan is working down here in a parts distribution plant in north
carolina. if my husband actually wanted to not be in the union any more, there would be a huge uproar. he is only two years away from retirement. he cannot do it. host: we get the point. mr. mix. guest: the pressure inside a cell line is incredible. in north carolina where the caller is from and where the convention is heading, we have a fascinating case representing 27 employees who decided to exercise their rights under the right to work law. their names, social security numbers and other private and permission was posted on bulletin board with public access. they have a law that makes it a violation of state law to post prime and information about
individuals. we took this to court. human examples are exempt from prosecution under the state law for posting this private and permission, which would have been a violation for anybody else who did this. we filed a petition with the u.s. supreme court to hear that case so they do not get another exemption in intimidating workers. host: the president will be in toledo, ohio, at a uaw picnic. we will bring you live coverage of that campaign event. all right and will be at eastern carolina university. the next call for mark mix from greenville, south carolina on the independent line. caller: hello. thank you for taking my call. one thing i want to comment on is and trying to figure out if the republicans are really
backing your right to work campaign. i live in south carolina. when they came out with the right to work states. these people just wanted to pay these people making $15-$20 an hour and now they guarded the unions, they only pay people $8-$10 an hour. if you're only making $8 an hour, you cannot go out and buy a new car. the economy of the country can rebound is everyone is just making $10 an hour in these jobs. the people were making a decent pay, people would be buying houses and cars and we could move forward. the right to work act took all that away. what happened was these people
could fire you for any reason anytime if they did not like the way you tie your shoes, you were fired. people want to know why they're making $20 an hour and then they have to find a new job. then there are only making $14 an hour. host: john, thank you. guest: the right to work law has nothing to do with the cat will employment status of several states around the country. you're mixing and matching your laws and statutes. it simply says your right to join a union is protected and also your right not to. it's very simple. the idea that south carolina is not doing well, they are now the tire capital of the world and make one of the most highly technological aircraft in the world, the 787 dreamliner.
the idea of their right to work and forcing people into a union has anything about what we're talking about is ridiculous. there are unions in right to work states. there is higher union density in alabama than states that do not have a right to work laws. the idea of giving the workers a choice is outside of what we have been talking about. if unions provide benefits, workers will join them. host: donna816 tweets in -- mocrat.e, dan, deom caller: good morning. it is all well and good at what you are saying about the guys having a right to join the union or not join the union. that is just a smokescreen. the companies, the corporations, the bosses have way more power.
as soon as you get rid of the union, they will start to exercise that power and leverage that power. if you want to have a union, they will run you out, fire you, get rid of you. they will hire a guy you will come in and say they will do that job for $10 for an hour and he will probably be an illegal to boot. what about the guys in the union shop who do not want to pay the dues but want to get all the benefits the union negotiates for them? why should they get something for nothing? guest: we do not think they should. the fact is that union officials lobby for and guard their privilege to force all workers and to the union collective. they negotiate an exclusive bargaining arrangement under the law. you will see it in every state statute with bargaining and most private sector contracts and it
says the union is the single voice in the workplace, that a worker who may want to talk to the employer cannot. the other thing about driving people out, there are laws against that. the national relations board convict employers of unfair labor practices all the time for these things and they convict union officials for violating the rights of workers. there is a hierarchy of regulation here that protects workers in these instances. if you really do the research, you will find out most of what you were saying is not true. why would they want to represent someone who is not in their union? it is the basis for them saying that we have to represent these people because now we have to force them to pay fees. that is the ultimate in their argument for compulsory unions. the chairman of the national labor relations board under bill clinton said that the unions are perfectly in order for them to
negotiate member-only contracts. it's the law. they ought to do that and not cry crocodile tears about representation of people who did not vote for them, did not ask for them, did not want them. the on the ways and they do it is to have an argument that forces them to pay fees. host: tweeting int -- according to the labor department, workplace death is 51% higher in a right to work state. guest: does he have a citation for that? host: that is a statistic from the bureau of labor statistics that we found. guest: 51% higher? what is the basis for that? host: just reporting to you what
we found. guest: if we force everyone to join a union, we will stop workplace death? host: is that your answer? guest: i guess. host: last caller from longview, texas. caller: thank you overtaking my call. i was a union member since 1974. i worked for 37 years. they did make accommodations there was no discussion of any type. this was with the postal service.
there were taking out all injured and all the employees. they did not tell you that, but it was obvious. i had a heart attack. i filed with my union. injured employees -- over the years, i have contacted my national union in my prior craft of national rural letter carriers for help. they had no interest and employing them, especially when they had to be placed in another class. i contacted them for help. what i'm getting at is i paid union dues to two unions for all these years and getting help was
nearly nonexistent because i was an injured employee. there really had no interest in promoting me staying employed. host: we've got to leave it there. any response for her? guest: that is a difficult story, peter. it's unfortunate. there is a process there and she articulated how it went. the union represents her grievance, or fails to do so. that is relevant today, labor day, and every day of the year. host: unions forced prices up for those who do not make $150,000 for year, off of twitter.
another tweet. guest: political corporations have pacs that workers can support. even the union pacs are voluntary. contributions from union members to the political action committee are truly voluntary. no question about that. that's how it is written. unions are good about that. they tend to dress the language about the automatic deduction and the small language at the bottom of the application for membership, but we will not get into that. pac money is voluntary but it is the soft money for voter registration drives, phone banks, get the boat out, that can be general treasury money used. in that bucket is money they are forced to pay as a condition of getting the job. host: mark mix, president of the
national right to work committee. he has been our guest this labor day. thank you. we will be joined by mike williams, president of the florida afl-cio. we will get his viewpoint of labor and elections 2012 and the status of labor unions to day in america. first, some live pictures from charlotte. this is the baggage claim at charlotte douglas international airport. these are welcoming committee members who were starting to spread out throughout the airport as the delegates arrived in to charlotte for the democratic national convention. when you arrive, there will be all sorts of people meeting plans, welcoming desks, banners. lots of volunteers there right now. it looks like they're getting their marching orders as the delegates began to arrive today. these are live pictures from
charlotte international airport in north carolina. here is an inside pitch for the time warner cable arena where the convention will kick off tomorrow. gavel to gavel coverage on c- span. joining us from our temporary studio in charlotte is mark mix, president of the florida afl-cio. -- is mike williams, president of the florida afl-cio. how would you described unions today? guest: many workers are struggling for am looking for an answer, looking for help. the issues they're facing every day, more and more leaders of organized labor from rank-and- file activists, and state and national leaders are
recognizing that the education has to occur with workers and that is an ongoing process in building a true movement in the state of florida. there's great optimism in this country that the union movement is alive, growing, and will have significant impact on the lives of all workers in this country, not only now but to come. host: what percentage of florida workers in a right to work state are represented by unions? guest: it depends on the particular workplace discipline. it is about 10%-12%. host: is that consistent nationwide? guest: i would say no. there are other states that represent more density of union workers in those states. i would say florida is nearer
the bottom, one of the lower tiers for the percentage of workers that want organized labor. host: which worked union do you involve -- are you involved in? guest: the international brotherhood of electrical workers. i'm a construction electrician. back when i was a young man in the early 1970's, i was not college material but i was looking for something that i enjoyed doing and looking for something that could provide a career. i heard about the print and ship -- apprenticeship programs and i spent four years in the program in jacksonville. i went to school two nights a week. 2000 hours on the job learning about what you were studying in school. after four years, i receive my
journeymen card and a license issued by duval county, florida. i still carry that today. host: do you believe workers should be compelled to join unions? host: -- guest: if we are getting to the right to work discussion i heard earlier, i would say there is a greater discussion that has to be had when it comes to the corporate, the elite, those who have it in this country trying to eliminate the success of a strong working middle class. there's no doubt that some of the issues associated with the right to work is just another avenue to make that happen. they know the stronger unions are, the less impact than have on reducing and helping the middle class in this country. host: 202 is the area code.
we are continuing to talk about labor unions, campaign 2012, and the status of labor today in america with mike williams, president of the florida afl- cio. the numbers are on your screen if you would like to dial in to participate in our conversation. detroit, michigan, good morning. caller: this is the first time i have ever gotten through. thank god for c-span. it's amazing how many times the best programming on the air is on c-span and i have 300 channels. i have been studying this particular issue for 40 years in university. i do not know how much time you're going to give me, but i will tell you the main thing here is why by the caliph you're getting the milk for free?
almost everything the union does benefits all the people in the union. all the people working there and working people who do not belong to a union. i spent 30 years at general motors. if you give all of us the option of getting all the services for free or paying for it, what you think most people choose? host: any response for that caller, mr. williams? guest: i hope things are going well for you in your part of the country. there is a lot of credence to the fact that if people cannot see the benefits of a negotiated contract, can see the benefit on wages, welfare, security when it comes to retirement and not having to invest in that, some people will do the wrong thing. i agree with him on his take about how he describes the whole
issue about whether someone should be a member of a union or not while at the same time receiving those same benefits. host: what are you doing in charlotte? guest: i'm a delegate from florida. i arrived yesterday afternoon. i just saw the clip about the volunteers at the airport. it's hard to describe how helpful they were representing charlotte as we flew in from florida. just giving me directions on where to go, what bus to get on for the hotel and staying out. i'm really looking forward to the next stage of events and i'm meeting with friends and other labor leaders, other elected officials from all over the country and especially from florida and dedicating ourselves to reelecting president obama in november. host: the controversial to hold and alike -- the convention in a right to work state? guest: florida is a right to
work state. you can come down and join us anytime. the president of the north carolina afl-cio has worked hard to take in all the considerations. i can tell you organized labor has been involved in many facets of putting this convention together in charlotte. i see this as a great opportunity to show the workers in every hotel worker in the state, before we leave, has a card in their pocket describing the benefits of being in a union. not every construction worker in of the process has an opportunity to organized labor, working in the industry, about what it means to work under a collective bargaining agreement and how successful you can be.
there is great opportunity in north carolina and charlotte incoming here. i see it as no issue at all. out of the 300 delegates coming to charlotte, 80 are union members, and we are in prison that with open arms. host: pawtucket, rhode island. caller: good morning to both of you. this is also my first time calling. i have a question. a few years ago, i tried to join a company in massachusetts, a right to work state also. i went through an agency and they told me if you work 60 of 90 days, you had a good chance to join the union. when i joined, i did not know how it worked. it was my first time with unions. after the first three months, they told me i was a good worker. i talked to management and a tall man that the union was the
hiring at a time. i was wondering why the company was telling me that. then i found out, because they put us on a four-day work schedule, at the 60-day rule did not apply, so i could only pretty much get in the union if they wanted me, but they were playing ping pong. management would say the union was not hiring, the union would tell me the company was not hiring. it went on much this for about a year and a half. every three months i went back to management and then the union. they told me that i had to wait until somebody there found a sponsor in the union that wanted to pull me in -- host: what is your final question for mike williams? caller: we were paying dues like
union members even though we were not in the unions. how come they do that, when they manipulate the days so that you cannot get in but you are still paying into the union? we wanted to get the benefits. guest: i have to say, i am not familiar of any situation like that. certainly, it sounds like there is a problem somewhere. it sounds like that company and the workers need some schooling on labor-management. if one is telling you one thing and another is tell you another, they are not communicating with you fairly. organized labor, the employees they work for, it is all about having everyone be successful, having great relationships, and resolving specific issues. i am sorry you were placed in such a situation, but for me to comment on your situation, it
will be tough without more information. if i can help you in any way, our state office in florida is listed in the phone book. please call me anytime. host: bill tweets in -- guest: if i had the answer, i might be the president of the national afl-cio. i will tell you this. there is a lot of frustration and in day to day living, getting by with working families all over the country. for sure, in the state of florida. there are a lot of people that have lost faith, motivation, and not only with the organization that we represent, but with our society and government, and our job, as organized labor, is to reinvigorate, educate, motivate
those folks that have dropped out of unions. many drop out because they do not have a job. keep in mind, most union members in this country, when they lose their job, they are no longer union members. so a big part of the drop in membership is not from people losing interest but the jobs going overseas. the fact that the outsourcing focus that the romney-ryan ticket has as part of that issue, instead of insourcing that we could have, burning good jobs to the country, making jobs available for people to work at and join a union. host: rhonda is a democrat. you are on the line with mike williams. caller: first of all, i want to applaud you. the afl-cio does an amazing job for the unions. i am the president of my local union. we were in salt in the spring
check card. 97% of our plants participated that day. the union has been able to go in and get people their time off. before the union, we worked unions, holidays, everything. since the union, our wages have gone up from $7 an hour to $10.65 to start. unions are a must in arkansas. we have heard supervisors say we will fire you just because we do not like you. you are doing an amazing job. keep doing this. the state of arkansas welcomes unions. host: mr. williams? guest: thank you. my friend is the president of the arkansas afl-cio, and they are doing a lot to create
conditions for success. i am so glad that you and your co-workers can move forward. what a great example of workers coming together to benefit their families, and in the end, will benefit for company. a more productive and dedicated work force. >> who is the national president of the afl-cio? guest: richard trumka. host: a tweet -- guest: what an interesting question. i can only speak about two things when it comes with wal- mart. my personal experiences and some of the activities that i know of
from organized labor. i do not shop at wal-mart. i absolutely will not. in my opinion, walmart helped to begin the downfall of so many small business operations, mom- and-pop operations. i know in my home town that i kf from organized labor. i do, it is true in florida. who has a bumper sticker on the back of their car. it says always low wages, shop at wal-mart. nationally, i know there have been several attempts to organize different local -- organize and dislocations. i know this occurred at one location. they closed it down instead of allowing the process to go on. all of those workers were laid off. for several different reasons, i see walmart as a threat to our society and the middle class economy, as well as organized labor in this country.
host: next phone call comes from fort myers, florida. sean, republican line. caller: i may transit operator. currently, we are athe wages, ce a good friend non-union authority. we try to get a union in. i have nothing to complain about the benefits, the wages are low, but if you compare the wages, i am working about a 10-hour shift. i am in your corner, mr. williams. i hope we can get a union in our shop. it is not just about wages. it is about treating human beings with fairness and dignity. guest: if i can, thank you, sean. public transit workers, but a
challenge you all have every day, not knowing what to expect from the folks that occupy the transportation that you provide. leading up to the rnc in tampa, had a call from a bus driver who was really struggling, and dealing with the restrictions, and at the same time, requirements put on transit workers. that city had to work with unions. many were not allowed to take a break. there was no excuse for them not being able to access the workplace because of retribution from the employer. those kinds of things go lilongwe, when it comes to our morale, productivity, a willingness to work together with management. host: about 20 minutes left in our program this morning before
we return to charlotte and some of the democratic national convention activities surrounding the convention which kicks off tomorrow. coverage begins tomorrow. near field, new york. bob. you are on. caller: a couple of things i wanted to touch upon this morning. my father worked for a large company in new jersey during the 1960's an 1970's. he was a white collar guy. he used to lament that if and light bulb was out in his office, it required not one, two, but 3 union members to repair the light bulb. two, my sister was a school teacher in new jersey. i am a republican, independent.
she was lamenting over the fact that her union dues, as the previous person on talked about , union dues colon to candidates which they did not support. her voice was not even heard. as a republican, she was in the minority. look at the trend lines in the united states. in the post world war ii, unions were necessary. the gis came home, they needed jobs. they seem to have a place in society. now, if you look at the trendlines, they are against us. we are against china, south america. a week, the people, are buying that. we are buying things for those countries.
just follow the trend line. if you notice the of unemployment reports over the last couple of months, there has been a steady decline in union membership as cities and states have shed public-sector employees across the board. host: what is your bottom line for mike williams? caller: i know mike is trying to drum of union support, but at the end of the day, in my opinion, unionization in the u.s., in the public and private sector, is on the decline. host: mr. williams? guest: several points that i would respond to. first, i will not make any excuses or apologize for the past errors of organized labor. work practices where you have to bring in three people to bring
in a light bulb as an example -- i am in construction. there are similar issues in years past where digging a ditch, one person uses a shovel and another person comes in to cover it up. those practices are no longer with us. we have recognized the error of those ways and we are moving forward on the more productive. in the building trade, in the 1960's, they represented a great majority of the construction workers. in the 1970's, it became more of a country club. if he did not know the right people, you did not get an apprenticeship program. those who needed representation, it did not matter unless you knew the right people. membership started to go down because people were going to work, whether they were union or not. we recognized the error of our ways. now, i do not care where you are or were you have been.
we are going to find a place for you and do the best we can to represent you. as far as do is going to a candidate that you do not support, there are contributions to go to candidates. there are processes that we use explicitly where rank-and-file members, if they choose to pacific in the process, can have a void and -- voice and vote on where those cuts to patients are sent. i would encourage your sister to become of that process. when it comes to the for work force, not long ago, i visited the country of colombia. my purpose was to document human rights violations. they are the second-largest international trade country with my home state. i spoke with families whose brothers, uncles, fathers, are being killed and maimed on a regular basis because of human
rights activities because that government and those folks over there do not want a strong working middle-class, which organized labor helps. host: sam from the associated press recently had this article. citizen of the world tweets in. costco is non-union but there employees are treated with dignity and fair wages. by the way, a founder supports obama 2012. guest: absolutely. we are not talking about every worker and every company. there are times and instances
where good things happen. bad things happen. i would just say that we are not talking in absolute when it comes to describing employers or the work force when it comes to any of the issues we are talking about. costco and their support of the president is one of those instances. host: next phone call comes from kentucky. shelley is a democrat. caller: thank you for c-span. i want to say, i am a retired union carpenter out of 104 in dayton, ohio, 36 local. i have had good success with the carpenters' local in the dayton, ohio area. anybody in my estimation who is going to carry a lunch pail and coat to work, especially the construction trade, would be
very uninformed to not be a union member. i support the union's all the way. i am supporting my president barack obama. thanks again, mr. williams. i really appreciate your efforts. host: mr. williams? guest: thank you. like i tell everyone, mr. williams is my father, i go by mike. he hit the nail on the head when it comes to where you are at in your life right now. retired with some sort of security. knowing that you will be taken care of. your help will be taken care of. you can retire and your family can live with some dignity as you move on in your later years. what a good example. let's go back to what this election is all about, the stark differences between the choice that we have that can prevent workers from having a life that you have right now. and that is, do we want to elect
someone that wants to go back and install the policies that put us where we are today, and where we have been for the last 12 years, getting better over the last four, tax breaks for the super rich, the elite, the bankers, without regulation, or do we want true focus in moving forward and helping working families without taking those tax breaks and regulations off their back? and when you look at what a romney-ryan ticket is trying to do, it is exactly going back to where we were 12 years ago and reinstituting the policy but we are still suffering from today. do we want that? i say the answer is no. host: can unions make a difference in a swing state, like florida? guest: absolutely. and we are planning to make a difference. we are putting on programs that will give every member, not just
union members -- we are reaching out to community members, they- based organizations about the membership. we are educating about the reelection of barack obama over romney-ryan. that is when it comes down to. i am a construction worker. i have been working for about 20 years in the hottest, dirtiest places. you come home in the evening and you take your clothes off on the back porch and you rinse off before you even take a shower. there are so many families that are in that same situation. what we do in november will make a difference on the struggles they have in helping them meet their end, a week to week, month to month, under those conditions. host: as we continue the conversation with mike williams, we also have scott ross, the executive director of one wisconsin now.
guest: thanks for having me on this fabulous labor day. we are a state what progressive advocacy organization of over 50,000 online supporters committed to a wisconsin with equal economic opportunity for all. host: are you pro-labor? is that where you come from? guest: certainly, one wisconsin now is a long supporter of labor in the middle-class. fighting against a lot of the policies like governor romney and representative ryan but the people of wisconsin. it is a failed policy, it is trickle-down, it takes away money from the middle-class and put into the hands of wall street. that has never worked in the history of america. host: what was your involvement in the recent recall of gov. walker in wisconsin? guest: we stood with working men and women, we stood with the middle-class.
we stood with teachers and firefighters, police officers, public employees across the state of wisconsin, to try and stop an attack on our way of life by outside interest by the koch brothers, every corporate benefactor of the far right extreme wing, who came in and poured in about $80 million into the race and bought themselves a governor. it is unfortunate. when you take away the tools of the middle-class, public education, health care, infrastructure, you denude what the middle class can do. unfortunately, we are seeing more of what mitt romney and paul ryan wanted to. they want to slash taxes on the rich. they want the middle class to pay for those tax breaks. it is going to starve public education systems, decimate health care, and it will leave us with an infrastructure that is compromised and subject to
peril. host: mr. ross, what will be your role in the coming campaign? guest: we do not tell people how to vote. it is up to them to make the decision. we talk to them about what the important decisions are. what kind of choices, what kind of twisted are out there in terms of public policy debate? you look at mitt romney. basically, he made his fortune by going into companies, creating new debt for those companies, and then getting millions of dollars in fees in order to tell management how to cut enough workers to pay off their debts. that is a failed policy, so anti-middle-class. it is important to know the records. people need to make up their own mind on when ever -- when it comes to this election and their everyday lives. it is a strong middle-class and labor movement that makes america great. that has always been the case.
whenever we have strong unions, strong middle-class workers, america thrives and prospers. unfortunately, from top to bottom, mitt romney and paul ryan wanted a better way. everything from the attacks on medicare, to a desire to cut people from pell grants, when we have over $1 trillion in student loan debts. something that is absolute devastating the ability of generation x and y to have a slice of the american dream, a new car, a new house. you cannot do that when you get on of college with $20,000 in debt. unfortunately, mitt romney and paul ryan would make the situation worse for the nation and wisconsin. host: we are joined by scott ross, director of one wisconsin now. thank you, mr. ross.
back to your phone calls for mike williams from the florida afl-cio. just a couple of minutes left. kirk is a republican in salem, oregon. caller: hello, mike. seems to me you are a very nice fellow. i think the unions need to have a new playbook. first of all, i am a staunch believer that the united states of america and everyone in it, including the vanderbilts and rockefellers, bill gates, you and i, are all here because there was a strong union movement in the early 20th- century. i do believe unions led the way for the working man to be in the middle-class. on the other hand, we have some clear information now that membership is declining. especially in the private sector
unions. if you want to be the president of the national afl-cio, i would recommend that you consider adding a third element for government and teachers. that is really one of the impediments. it has been unfortunate up to now that we have had so many union members who are public sector workers, as we see the private sector membership declined so sharply. i will leave time for your answer. i appreciate you coming on today. host: mr. williams? guest: i am not looking for leadership at the national level. i love what i do in the state of florida and will continue to do just that. talk about public education and teacher's, the attack on public education.
there is no doubt in my mind that is part of the attack on the middle-class. where did the middle class get its start? when public education started in this country. it is not about the teachers unions. it is about the free public education. doubt in my mind that is part of the attack on the middle-class. where did the middle class get its start? when public education started in this country. the elite, super rich see the
private sector membership declined so sharply. i will leave time for your answer. i appreciate you coming on today. , the cdo's, bankers, they want a weak or nonexistent middle class. they know the way to do that is to eliminate as much as possible a basic foundation with public education. at the same time, put financial gains in the hands of education for profit organizations. education, organized labor are all working together and moving family values forward. in florida, our education unions, education association bar at the forefront at the final working families. i hope everyone understands it with a provision they have to provide, if anyone thinks this is a nine-month job, just follow some of the teachers i know in florida. thank you for the comments host: labor union approval in the u.s. has held steady the last couple of years. 52% approve of labor unions while 42% opposed. you can see it is quite a change from 2001 when 65% of the american public approved of unions. 28% or disapproving. our guest has been mike williams of the florida afl-cio. he is in our studio in charlotte where the democratic national convention kicks off tomorrow. mr. williams, thank you for your time.
guest: it has been great. i've enjoyed the conversations with members of our society in general public around the country. looking forward to the next few days in charlotte. host: coming up tomorrow, the convention kicks off. day one on tuesday, gavel-to- gavel coverage on the c-span, c- span.org, the convention but form. there will be a mere presentation. the mayor of san antonio will be giving the keynote address. michelle obama will also be speaking. wednesday night, during the day, day two, elizabeth warren will be doing the nominating speech. and former president bill clinton will have a keynote address. there will be a roll call of states, voted on the nominees. thursday, the nominees will accept the nomination. vice-president biden, president obama, and john kerry will also be speaking. that is the three-day convention coming up from charlotte. as always, when there are convention going on, there are
lots of things going on with them. all sorts of events around these conventions, and coming up, we want to show you one that we covered yesterday. this is sponsored by the "charlotte observer" and the university of north carolina. there was discussion on politics and the 2012 election. judy woodruff posted this -- hosted this. >> i saw so many people in the room taking notes. think you'll be swarmed with people asking questions and looking at not only the website and thumb drive and anything else they can get their hands on for information. i want to thank my longtime
friend who heads the journalism and communications school at the university of north carolina. if you are wondering why she axed a duke graduate to moderate this discussion, i will tell you it is because i promised to be on good behavior and would not wear any blue devil paraphernalia. we are dear friends and i am really glad to be here. i just came from a brief rehearsal this morning at the time warner arena with my colleague, and we are preparing to anchor all week for the "pbs news our." it looks great over there. i think the democrats have done a good job of setting up. we will see how things go. i am really thrilled to be here. this is an extraordinary group of thinkers and writers and scholars who you will have a chance to hear from him in just a moment. i want to get the program off
right away. i want to thank the charlotte observer for hosting this, one of the nation's great newspapers. i did spend some of my growing up years in the south. i went to college here in the south. i really do have a long time special interest in this part of the country. i have long been aware of how i think it's not -- it's a part of the country that is not very well understood. it is so often caricatured. my goal is to bring some clarity to that and this is the perfect group of folks to do that. whilegoing to talk for a and then open it up for questions and comments. the only journalist i may not call on is al hunt, the bloomberg executive editor for
washington and i have to decide whether i'm going to let him in. you have done it all, you have done newspapers. you come from a great newspaper family from the state of mississippi. you were leaders in repositioning the democratic party. where do you see the democratic party in 2012? >> the party and its position in 2012? >> what makes your -- let's make sure your microphone is working. >> let me begin by making sure we were going to have three minutes proportionate to our predecessors. that means i have 15 minutes. i will not use that 15 minutes because i am neither a scholar nor in fact a person who has studied the figures very much.
this is going to be impression is sick, so you can put down your pants. in 1928, a grandfather came back from voting in the presidential election and announced to his sons actual shock and surprise that he couldn't help for itself, that he had pulled the eagle after all and had voted democratic. why was that a surprise? the democratic party had begun the process of deserting the south's instincts for a more national constituency and have nominated a catholic. an impossible thing for the very protestant east coast and ethic represented by some of these charts. but he voted nonetheless a man of rigorous prejudice when it came to race and religion, nonetheless voted democratic. they of course state democratic in 32. there were not often -- offered a way not to sense the way
roosevelt ran was a essentially conservative. they stayed in 36 because they weren't quite sure the farmers had been saved and thereafter, began a long, slow unraveling of a passionate love affair and marriage which was completed, as was said by two of our predecessors speakers, by 1980. but the divorce did not just happen like that. it was a response to any number of changes not in the south. but in the rest of the country and the democratic party specifically so that at each stage of the divorce proceedings, what you had a first was what seemed to be to an unchanging south, a deliberate affront to faithful love and regard. so in 1948, the democrats come forward with a civil rights plank which mr. truman was
passionately interested in, much to the shock of his many supporters who had gone with him for vice president because he was no liberal. then suddenly it turns out that he is and we have the dixiecrat walkout and the dixiecrat party and a brand new reflection of disaffection in the south. we also have in that 48 walkout what becomes the predicate for something else, which is the growing republican interest in the south, but a different kind of interest. my dad in 1952, he goes with eisenhower because eisenhower represents of the new south, and urban, moderate, conservative sell which will break the iron grip of the one-party system and a lot people -- certain types of
people were republicans in the south were there. eisenhower does relatively well and establishes that it is possible for swing states could the republicans all of the sudden, you look at these blips on the chart where va or florida votes republican. they are being cultivated white republicans have never bothered with in the past -- in the post- civil war era. the dixiecrat crowd is not the eisenhower crowd, but the democratic party gives a great gift to the republicans in both the election of the catholic -- are governor here was one of the few major democrats to endorse
in 1960 election. you elect the catholic, which is a repudiation of much of what the white protestant south wants. the catholic, despite themselves, finally finds themselves and forcing civil rights measures which are anathema to much of the south. with his assassination in the ascension of the democrat from texas, and with great ambition, mr. johnson, a passage of the succession of civil rights act, each one of them, whether housing, accommodations, says to the south we just want to put your face in it. when i say the white south -- what the rest of the democratic party is saying to them. nixon comes along and there is much conversation about the southern strategy, but by that time, you did not need to be very smart to know the south was in an uproar. there was george wallace, who
had by that time run a couple of times for president and was discovering not merely seveners the lots of others were unamused by certain of the changes in the democrat party. i want to emphasize this over and over again -- the democratic party is changing and the south is not. along comes this time of slowly building death, not merely of marriage but of other things. yet another famous moment -- nixon wins. he is not hurt by the fact there is another candidate in there but a democrat as the possibility of carrying anything in the south. a strange thing happens -- the democratic party gets even more to the left as far as the rest
of the country is concerned and along comes the mcgovern election. i remember it well because i was traveling with something called the grasshopper special which was aping liz carpenter's ladybird special. this is a bunch of campers. we were really serious about carrying the south. there wasn't anybody to the right of me in any of those campers who went across the south. we spero -- we spoke at the carolina straight -- we spoke at the carolina state fair and that wonderful, silly man come in the gulf and bacchus cayman spoke with us, guaranteeing jesse helms had a sitting target. he was one of the few who came out to meet us. all else had enough sense to go hide because they knew at this point the party was dead in the water as the lot of us in the south. the other person who came not to
c.s. with jimmy carter, who came out of the front door of the capitol in atlanta and greeted us and i've said it what is this idiot doing? he cannot be serious. a lot of us are looking around and saying prior to 72 that the only way the democrats can win is to find a southerner. a lot of us thought we had found one, and that was in terry and i was a dry stream as you remember. it was fun because i nominated him after he was dead. he led the way to jimmy carter, jimmy being no fool came out and stood against the party in an impossible place. jimmy actually carries much of the south and if you took out a third party, he would have carried a couple more states that he lost that election.
that is it for the democrats. and the to glamour boys of baptist white southern politics, bill clinton and al gore cannot carry this out and do not. they don't look for the states to carry. you will not find many depending on the election. but you see the reason the national party had been walking its own what was best personified by the fact that in the board election, he didn't need florida. all he had to do is carry new hampshire and he would have carried out without a single southern state. by that moment, the reversal was a total in american politics. the democratic party which had to have the solid south to do anything and republican party which used to win without it, now at their republican party that has to having your solid south and the democratic party that doesn't have to have it to win.
this is a fundamental change in the politics of america and certainly in the south. if you are a democrat like me in the deep south, it means you are in a wilderness you don't see ever getting out of and every now and then i looked up at my dad in heaven and say is this enough of a two-party system for you? the extraordinarily good piece of work talking about the possibility of a new marriage is built entirely on something which is the final point i want to make. the south of that marriage has undergone a fundamental change in the north and the old marriage went under in which it wrote off the south. this new south, the emerging south, the economically vital new south is a south which unlike the south of 350 years is not static in its population,
not the same black and white folk looking at each other for 350 years, but as fast streams of people are no longer tied by history, president or their own habit to the past, whether they're yankees coming in, hispanics coming in, black folks coming back, you name it, it is a different place entirely. we're practically american now in the way we have come out of being frozen in our population and have become dynamic in the way our population works. my granddad does literally turn over in his grave all the time. he could not pull the eagle today. they do not pull the eagles in louisiana. but a lot of folks who are now so others can come to grips with the new south, and believe me, because nobody is willing to talk honestly about race, it needs to be said at least
occasionally that it was not a small thing that three southern states that voted for obama. it was a revolutionary, incredible thing that three southern states voted obama. almost as revolutionary as a nation which had never been able to find that in itself to actually think ahead of the line was a black candidate of voting for a black presidential candidate. no longer the place that engage in the long romance. that is true in the south. i have no idea and i don't think many people do of what happens in the long term. in the short term, it is still the republicans'to lose because the changes have not become magnified. there will be having sessions on the blue south. a lot of folks had great hopes
that there is some way to recreate democratic approach which will not offend somebody white southerners. they're my friends, i wish them luck, i don't see how works, but i hope it can without doing violence to the new party. i didn't actually get 20 minutes, but i tried. [applause] >> thank you for that look at the south. sitting next to him is peter who has focused on the economic health of this region. talk about how the global marketplace has changed the way of life here. >> it always hard to follow carter. having done this a number of times, it's a thankless task. i will try to talk a little bit the way in which the south has been transformed. i am a bit more pessimistic
about the south than some of the other south -- some of the other speakers today. i am an economic historian. some of the might be wondering what an economic historian is. it is one that has been defined by lloyd dobbins as a person who loves numbers but lacks the vision charm -- lacks the charm, wit, and grace to become an accountant. [laughter] i would like to talk a little bit today about some of the forces that have created the south about which i am so pessimistic. if you look points. number one, i think the forces that created the south between 1945 and 1950 in the early '80s have been largely spent. the key to the sunbelt south during that time was the removal of a huge number of workers of a very backward,
dreadfully and efficient, low- skilled, undercapitalized agriculture sector to other sectors, particularly where there unskilled labor could be employed more efficiently. what were the sectors? for the most part, was skill, low value-added manufacturing industries, particularly those of an assembly or basic process in nature rather than metal fabricating and things like that. while industries like textiles, apparel, light industry are not great, by adding capital to human labor, a significantly increased productivity, which allowed for rising wages, rising income, and rising living standards for more and more of the south's population. the region was following a tried and true, time tested development strategy that most other parts of the developed world had experienced once they developed.
basically, a move out of agriculture into light industry. by that '80s, this strategy began to play itself out. as technological change rendered labor requirements and southern manufacturing reduced and jobs were increasingly lost to other lower-cost part of the world due to globalization, the sun belt's convergence upon national economic norms really slowed. before it came to a stop completely in the early '90s and not one of the slides, for capital income has not converged at all upon national norms since the early '90s. it is about 90% of the nation as a whole. median household income of the last few years in north carolina has fallen. it is about $43,000 a year, putting us 40th in the nation as a whole. even before the end of the so- called convergence, the lead story we often saw about the south, the rise of the sun belt
was quite misleading or at least incomplete. as the policy think tank in 1986, there were always shadows of the sunbelt particularly in rural and non-metropolitan parts of that region. with the collapse of light industry, as it accelerated into the '90s and the first decade of the 21st century, many of these areas have become economic basket cases. forlorn, is not hopeless cases, be set by every imaginable social pathology, places where the best economic development strategy is often a ham sandwich and a one-way bus ticket out. to be sure, the trajectory of better situated parts of the
region, the metro areas, financial centers such as charlotte or i.t. hubs such as rtp, places where the creative pratt -- to create a class lives, energy-rich areas, areas around military bases and universities have done better. increasingly pulling away from their rural and non-metropolitan parts of the south. in many ways, what we are seeing in the south looks like what many development economists call a middle income track, similar to places like thailand and malaysia and earlier, argentina and brazil, where an economy stagnates after reaching a certain middle level, usually because their manufacturing and labor cost structures allowed -- no longer allow them to compete with lower-cost areas but the labor force is not skilled
enough to compete higher up the value chain. in an international context, the moderates -- the motto of the southern labor force today is i am pretty expensive and not a very skilled. that is one of the problems we have to deal with. last week, there was an article about the bangladesh textile workforce. they point out that a minimum- wage for a bangladesh textile worker is $37 a but. the work 200 hours a month. doing the math, that's 18.5 cents per hour. these workers have basically the same equipment as our apparel workers have the south, which is one major reason why in bangladesh, is the leading supplier in the world. with these points in mind, it should not surprise us that the south in general and north
carolina in particular have been hit extremely hard by the recession of 2007 and 2008. north carolina has an unemployment rate of 9.6%, considerably higher than the u.s. as a whole. it is the fifth highest in the entire united states. my institute put out a steady annual fee every part of the state, every income group, every job classification, every age and age category has been hit hard by this recession. the structural factors combined with charlotte's financial sector, what happened with wachovia, wells fargo and bank of america, the collapse of the construction industry which has been profound, and ironically, continuing robust in migration has meant the labor market in
north carolina has been tremendously stressed over the last few years, especially since it never recovered from the 2000-2001 recession. the most stunning finding we just completed is that since 2000, north carolina has added 0.3% jobs while the state as a whole has gained 20% in population. this is the economic backdrop of south and north carolina for the fall election in my view. one way or another, if the south is going to the merged economically out of this age of rapid technological change and globalization, southern workers have to become more skilled. whether or not there is the political will to bring this about is the key question. we just put out a report titled moving on plato verses plumbing,
we have to develop multiple pathways to insure post- secondary education for all north carolinian is so we can move up the value chain and create a future economically it for this fast-growing part of the united states. thank you. [applause] >> that is an intriguing idea, ensuring post secondary education. you can see what a rich collection of ideas we're having thrown out here and i wish we had hours and hours to talk but i see the clock ticking. it is already is 1:15. the next panelist of the law professor has focused on voting rights. give us some insight on to all of the and this is we're seeing on the new voting rights laws that have come up in a number of states. how are these voter i.d. requirements going to affect these campaigns and are these laws going to have a bigger
effect in the south? pennsylvania, ohio, florida and other parts of the south -- with the essence of the south in particular. >> thank you. since i am a native southerner, although i have not been a southerner as lot as he has, i will keep my comments short. let me respond to your question by emphasizing a couple of things that add to some of the wonderful background of the speakers have offered. in general, north carolina has a particular place even among southern states. it is something that three southern states voted for the president and i think it's important to see the important distinctions here in north carolina publicly speaking, separated even from other southern states.
we have heard a lot a commercial and banking interests year which are not present at a large part of the south and that there is a cosmopolitan population focused on coming in and out. the important points tickets to the question is that there are serious party contests in the state. i think republicans have had a foothold in this region, but north carolina has not fit that trend as easily as a lot of other states, like the state i'm from, alabama. this is the one state where you have 12 years of uninterrupted democratic control the governor's seat. you're not going to find another state or that is true. there is also in the state, least until 2010, democratic control the state legislature. not something you can say in a lot of other southern states.
on the question of voting rights, there's a big presence of racial coalition building here. the talk about barack obama putting a coalition together, that has been true in north carolina for folks both black and white to compete on the democratic side. in the current state legislature, there are seven african-americans in the state senate. none of them represent a majority african-american constituencies. you will not see that most other southern states. however it is important because it's a trend that is likely to be changed and it is likely to be changed because of party competition. we just finished a round of redistricting controlled by the republican party and their goal is to go back to the pew center to make the republican party a solid, largely white party, but certainly to leave the largest constituency among democratic voters to be african-american. we know the difference is
numerically if we make this a racially divided election always means the democratic party will lose. they managed to do it this time using the division of district lines. ironically, it's because according to them, they think federal law requires them to do so. you will not hear many instances three republican party talking about the importance of following the federal mandate, but this is one of them. that is due to their intent to compete, but those sorts of fights are about party competition in their effort to make a lasting impression on the politics of the south. redistricting is one area where voting rights is going to be very important. the district drawing has ended but the court litigation has just commenced. that's going to be an important question that comes up --
important question that comes up during the course of the year. to be relevant to the upcoming laws. republicans have also taken basically a template that was devised in conservative think tanks and taken it around to a large number of statements to be adopted in the president's election, so you can only cast a ballot if you present photo i.d. of a certain type issued by a government to indicate you are who you say you are. now, it turns out that most of the folks who don't have access to the photo i.d., who currently don't have things like a driver's license include the poor and the elderly and non- white citizens, it will have an effect in metropolitan areas getting access to voter i.d., which is not an easy thing to do, in many cases where you have to pay for it. there's litigation going on around that. in many cases it's not quite clear whether or not that is going to be in place for the upcoming election.
one reason that's not likely to be as significant in the south as it is elsewhere is because of the application of the voting rights act. most of you have probably noticed that district court in washington, d.c. invalidated the enactment of a statute in texas that tried to do this on the grounds that texas could not show that the effect would not be discriminating against the poor and non-white citizens. that's not a law that applies in places like pennsylvania, where there's no sort of -- we call it pre-clearance, no early effort to determine whether or not the law is likely to create discriminatory impact. so in the south -- south carolina is a state that's next in line to have that kind of review process. that protection is an important one for those who believe that the law is going to have a negative impact. final thing to mention is early voting. in a large number of the southern states the democratic party used early voting quite effectively to get african-
americans in particular out to vote. they utilize sunday morning voting after church. getting a large number of people to the polling places. that is not going to be as widely available as it was before. in a number of states arguably because of economic belt- tightening. the legislatures have decided to curb that somewhat, and to some extent they've been successful. that is likely to have some impact on the extent to which democrats can lock in a number of votes fairly early. the game is going to fundamentally change, to use the phrase, because of this policy. last thing to mention -- all of these laws, as i think i've made clear, are all being sort of seen through the lens of the 1965 voting rights act which was mentioned earlier. the important piece that is sort of looming over all of this discussion is the voting rights act itself is under assault and
will likely be challenged in the united states supreme court, if not better the elections, shortly afterwards. so i think much of the conversation about whether or not these laws have discriminatory impact or had in light of some concern that at some point or another this protection might be invalidated by the supreme court. \[applause] >> again, you're raising all sorts of questions, i'm sure, that folks have and hopefully we'll have some time to get into some of that. next is jacquelyn hall. you wear two hats. one is as a history professor and the other is as the founder of the southern oral history project. that means you're talking to people across the south. you're hearing from the grass roots. so my question is, is there a profound change in the way people live and the way they work in the south today? we've been talking about laws, we've been talking about the economy, politics. how different is this region
from what it was 20 years ago, 40 years ago? >> well, -- >> you've got three minutes. >> three minutes, right. \[laughter] >> like my colleagues, i will limit myself. the program in recent years has been looking at the impact of the civil rights movement on the south. and at both the profound changes that the civil rights movement has brought about in the lives of ordinary people and also the limits of the civil rights movement. and the changes are obvious, the end of legal segregation, of discrimination and the unleashing of the economy. you wouldn't be seeing what you see around you in charlotte if it hadn't been for the civil rights movement. the civil rights movement helped white southerners as much as it did black southerners.
but there are also limits to what the civil rights movement achieved, and part of one of the key aspects of that, and has to do with what i think is kinds of a misunderstanding of what the civil rights movement was about, because economic issues, economic justice, issues of poverty were at the very core of the civil rights movement. it was not just about legal segregation. and those goals had not been -- have not been realized, and i would say another aspect of the civil rights movement that is misunderstood is the kind of distinction in people's minds between the good civil rights movement which succeeded and the bad war on poverty, which failed. these two efforts were totally intermingled. they had the exact same protagonists.
the people who had been fighting segregation were the people who were feeting poverty. the segregationists who had been visiting violence and other kinds of retribution on the civil rights activists were also fighting the war on poverty. and the war on poverty had a lot of successes, which it hasn't gotten credit for. and i think the fact that we don't remember all of that has helped feed a kind of disillusionment with the hope that government effort can actually make a difference in the economy and in poverty. another limitation has to do with the kind of lingering racial resentments and stereotypes on the part of white southerners, and i think i may be actually more optimistic than some of the people on the panel in the sense that i think
that those racial attitudes have changed profoundly. we don't realize how much we changed, unless you go back and actually look at what kind of veer length civil rights. and it lingers not just because of the legacy of slavery and segregation, not just because they've been there all along and it's going to take a long time to get rid of them, although that's certainly powerful, but because of things that have deliberate policies and propaganda that has intensified and stirred up and renewed those feelings. and they have to do with political strategy. the southern strategy, which has been alluded to and kind of
broadly conceived, how is the republican party going to win over the south? well, part of that strategy had to do with demonizing the policies that came out of the civil rights movement and were meant to realize the gains of the civil right movement. affirmative action, for example, was one of the kind of wedge issues that was used to bring white workers into the republican party by creating the belief that this is a zero- sum game and if you open up opportunities to blacks and women, why working men will lose. the attack on bussing, which was aimed mainly at white suburbanites who would disavow over racism but who very much believed in homers rights and were very much blind to the way
in which -- what one scholar has called affirmative action for whites, which was in place from "the new deal" into the civil rights movement, had created these kind of white enclaves, these neighborhoods that needed neighborhood schools and then, of course, the welfare queen. and this is still there. this is still behind the -- it's all coded now, but this identification of welfare with african-americans, and the notion that these are people who are getting something for nothing, these are people who are lazy, this is very, very powerful. and it helps not only to perpetuate these racial stereotypes, but it helps, again, to discredit efforts to
create and maintain a strong safety net. another thing i want to mention in terms of successes that people don't notice and limit to what the civil rights movement has been able to do has been in school desegregation. in the 19 0's the south had the -- 1980's the south had the most integrated schools in the country. that had to do with federal oversight, but it also had to do with -- take charlotte as an example. swan v. mecklenburg, 1971, a landmark case, which did what you have to do if you're going to integrate the schools. it said that you cannot have all white suburbs and integrated inner cities. it has to be a metropolitan plan. you have to have two-way bussing because of entrenched residential segregation, which d e suburbs and integrated inner cities.
it has to be a metropolitan plan and because of intrenched residential segregation is there because of public policies in the past, and that was a hard- fought battle but it was embraced by an interracial coalition, which included white, blue-collar workers, and it became a tremendous point of pride for the city. and that has been -- is now being completely reversed because of the decisions of the conservative supreme court, which has made it impossible to create those metropolitan integration plans. so now the schools of charlotte and throughout the south are resegregating. so in sum, i would say, so what are the limits, what are the challenges? these lingering stereotypes and
along with the lives in the south of modern forms of segregation. i think the convergence that we're seeing is that southern -- i agreed completely that the growth of metropolitan populations is good for the democratic party. it's where our hope lies. but the most segregated cities in the country right now are all north of the mason-dixon line and they all have to do with defacto segregation, and that is the kind of segregation that we're going to have to the metropolitan cities of the new, new, new aouth. and then, of course, there's the entrenchment of rural poverty and the continued association between race and class, which i know that gene
can talk about better than i can. >> great, thank you very much, jacquelyn. \[applause] so you did, jacquelyn, mention poverty. in fact at one point you said the war on poverty had a lot of successes in the south. so i'm going to turn to you, gene nichol, who is a distinguished law professor and head of the center on poverty, work and opportunity. there hasn't been a lot of talk in this campaign about poverty, but there's been a lot of talk about jobs and about unemployment in the south. expand on what we just heard from jacquelyn. what role does poverty play in the political landscape? and if you want to, talk about how poverty plays off against the middle class and how the middle class is such a factor in this campaign. >> judy, i will do my best to do that. let me say, too, it's great to see you all here and be part of
this panel. this being the south, i should note that this panel was to begin at 11:30 on sunday morning, which is proof positive that journalists are heathens. \[laughter] the only programs we believe in on sunday morning at 11:30 come out of the pulpit. now, i'm a lawyer, so i'm an admitted heathen of long standing. it's nice to have your company. i would say, too, that i, like peter, i do a lot of programs, which means i never expected to speak this morning. so you'll have to forgive me for a meandering presentation. i'm going to talk about poverty. poverty in the united states, but more pointedly, poverty in the south. one of my favorite writers is wallace stegner, who writes not
about the south, but the west. stegner characterizes the west as the native home of hope. and i think he means it in the good sense and in the bad sense, too. sort of the big rock candy mountain notion. i always thought you could borrow a bit from stegner and characterize the south as the native home of poverty in the united states, which means that we have more poor people and more political leaders who are untroubled by it than the rest of the country. so i think neither of those are a high compliment. you know the broad numbers about poverty generally, though, as judy said, we never hear these discussed in political campaigns. some discussion of the middle class, a lot of the discussion of the wealthy, but almost nothing of those at the bottom.
but in the united states, over 15% of us live in poverty, some 47 million. the highest raw numbers likely in our history and the highest percentage in over 20 years. the figures are worse by race, with black, latino and native americans closer to 30% living in poverty. it's worse by age. kids, the youngest, the most vulnerable, the poorest, over 22% in the country, over 25% of our kids in north carolina live in poverty. and then if you cut that again according to race, in north carolina it seems to me a sort of badge of humiliation, 40% of our children of color live in poverty. numbers that are tough to mention in polite company and
out loud, numbers which almost indicate a failure of a commonwealth. the south, though, is worse. the figures are worse, the economic circumstance is worse than the rest of the country. if you look at it by region, according to the census data, about 17% of the south lives in poverty and the other three regions would be between 12% and 15%. uninsured, over 19% of us in the south are uninsured. the rest of the country ranges from 12% to 17%. there was new data released on this front last week, which is not in your materials. it indicated that florida now has over 25% uninsured. i didn't hear that mentioned in tampa. there was a lot of discussion about how bad the affordable
care act was, but no discussion of 1/4 of floridians having no health care coverage. the states with the highest poverty rate in the united states, eight of the 10 are southern states, all but virginia in the south, all of the southern states are above the national average, some way above, with states like mississippi having over 30% living in poverty. 10 states with child poverty over 25%. nine of those are in the south. there are six million kid living in extreme poverty. that means income of less than half the federal poverty standard, and of those six million, 42% come from the south. there are 11 states with over
10% of their children living in extreme poverty, and 10 of those 11 are in the south. the pugh study, a new one, relatively new on economic mobility indicated that the lowest economic mobility in the united states is in louisiana, oklahoma, south carolina, alabama, florida, kentucky, mississippi, north carolina and texas. so this picture is pervasive. and in the south it's not getting better at the moment. the south was the only section of the country in the last census where these poverty figures got significantly worse. the next point being congenial to being concerned with poverty. this is not a southern attribute. i think we've seen that recently.
states are refusing to accept stimulus money, for example. some are more heavily loaded in the south. we did sort of an odd look at the support in opposition to the affordable care act. very dominantly those states with the highest level of uninsured expressed the greatest opposition to the affordable care act and almost vice versa in an outcome which would surprise madison. the states having the most to benefit frequently expressed in the greatest opposition. and similar arguments when it comes to medicaid expansion. great opposition so far in texas, florida, mississippi, louisiana, south carolina and georgia. alabama, where apparently there would be a 53% reduction in the uninsured under medicaid
expansions, saks 49.9%, and yet a vehement opposition. so we can debate why this is so. why would it be that we have the most poor people and the politics which is most deadly opposed to doing things about it? that has been debated in the south for the last 100 years at least. why is it that the south treats poor people the way it does? different theories from w.j. cash and bob dylan, sort of only a pawn in the game. answer going to try and that definitively. a lot of people here know much more about it than i do, including ferrell, and hodding or jackie. first of all the south has in
common with the rest of the country the invisibility of poverty, the removal of poverty from our political agenda. the removal of the concern of the bottom 30% sort of across the board. so if that's true, the united states generally, it is certainly true in the south. i think we have in the south the "what's the matter with kansas" phenomenon, which is some version of social conservative joining with economic conservatives, even if they end up not really getting their part of the bargain but voting against the economic interests of those at the bottom. and then jackie has opened the door and sort of carried for me the harder news, which is that whatever else, reaction to poverty is even more racialized
in the south than it is in the rest of the country, then it becomes more visible all the time. we just saw a political convention last week which was sort of remarkable on this front in its rhetoric and in its outlook. i'm going to end with this. but i kept having in my mind stephen colbert sort of coming to the front of the republican convention and going, "hail, white people!" with kind of an astonishing look even from the aesthetics of our polarization. so i think there could be great argument about why we have reached the stage that we have, but we do seem to have more poor folks in the south and a less powerful commitment to do something about it than much of the rest of the nation. \[applause]
>> ok. so provocative comments from five folks in a row. and i'm already -- i'm going to warn all of you. i'm coming to you next as soon as we hear from our final panelist. i'm coming to you for questions, so we're going to get right to that. jesse white you ran the appalachian regional commission for many years. you looked toe rural areas in the scout. was it scott who called them the non-core county? here we are in the banking capital of the world in charlotte. are there two south, the urban well-to-do south and then the south that we just heard gene nichol describe? goodthink that's a pretty summary of where the south has come. i think the comment i would like to leave you with is that the south is no longer either
mabry r.f.d. or the booming sun belt. it's a lot more complicated than that. the images that the american people have been left with of the south, neither one really obtain. what you've seen in southern economic development for the last 50 or 60 years you've heard about today, the convergence of the per capita income. the south was about 50% of the u.s. average in the great depression. we got up to about 90% 20 years ago. we've seen the urbanization, the metropolitanization of the south's economy. we've seen successes in technology development. a lot of good things that have changed the face of the south. but what these recessions have revealed over the last 30 years
are the tremendous impact of globalization and technology. and it has ripped the covers off of the bed of the southern economy and really has revealed two south, judy, like you were talking about. if you look at the investment patterns of public dollars in the south in the last 50 or 60 years, we have invested very well compared to other states in post-secondary education. we've invested incredibly poorly in elementary and secondary education until recently, and it's created in bifurcated workforce. the top half of us are globally competitive with anybody, the bottom 1/3 has been left behind. and as we moved away from an economy based on cost advantages and mass production, which was tied to this branch plant recruitment strategy of
economic development, and these jobs have started disappearing, it's left this bottom 1/3 high and dry. there's also been a tremendous spacial impact. i mean, we actually still have more distress in urban areas by numbers, but in terms of percentages and in terms of outlook and in terms of prospect, the rural areas are really have been left behind. i guess i won't take but another second just to conclude that in an election that is supposed to be all about the economy, as a southern white person from the same state as hodding -- you'll notice you run across a lot of mississippians because we don't live there anybody. we've got a cabal working to take over carolina.
there are several of us there. \[laughter] but it's always astonished me how my -- excuse me -- fellow white southerners almost consistently vote against the economic interest of the region from which they come. i mean, especially since reagan. the broad policy of the republican party has been to reduce income taxes, which helps the south less, because we have lower incomes, and reduce spending on social and economic programs, which hurts the south more because we have more at- risk people and more people left behind. and time and time and time again white southerners seem to be shooting their own toes off. i've never really quite understood it, except for these
other factors we've talked about, which is race, guns, gays. you know the social and cultural currents that are affecting voting behaviors. so it will be interesting to see how -- if southerners return to voting their economic interests. i wouldn't hold my breath. i see the clock is ticking. we have 12 minutes. it's up to you. who has a question? this gentleman right here. >> thank you. >> thank you. charlie of north carolina,